Microsoft has released another beginner’s version of Basic. The latest, called Small Basic (not to be confused with the multiplatform SmallBasic,) is available here. The language is a simplified sub-dialect of Basic. It is more like Tiny Basic on steroids than any of the more modern constructs like Visual Basic or C#. There are few functions and fewer statements. I think there are twenty in all. The documentation is terrific and written so that a non-programmer could follow what was written.
The IDE is really simple and has few options. You can save and load your code and run it. There are the standard clipboard functions of cut, copy and paste. There is also options to check the code and to compile (build) your code. The IDE uses the ribbon bar and also features a right side pane that displays useful context sensitive information. While entering your code, the IDE has a version of Intellisense that gives you information like methods, properties and other information that you can insert into your code. It is presented in a really nice popup balloon. I kind of wish it were in Visual Studio.
Execution is a tad slow and there is no real debugging features. The compiler does give compile time error information but, in this release, it is not overly helpful. Maybe they can fix that.
Features lacking include some kind of interface builder. You cannot create a Windows form. You do have access to the graphics engine through the use of limited but useful functions.
One really cool feature, and it’s a throw back to the days of PILOT, is the inclusion of Turtle graphics.
Clearly, this is aimed at non-programmers, children and anyone who wants to play around with programming but do so in a safe and somewhat easy manner.
Small Basic needs only a little bit more work and it will be a terrific tool to teach the basics of programming.